THE International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, his son and his intelligence chief for crimes against humanity in the early days of their struggle to cling to power.
Judges announced today that Gaddafi is wanted for orchestrating the killing, injuring, arrest and imprisonment of hundreds of civilians during the first 12 days of an uprising to topple him from power after more than four decades, and for trying to cover up the alleged crimes.
The warrants turn Gaddafi, his son Seif al-Islam Gaddafi and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanoussi into internationally wanted suspects, potentially complicating any efforts to mediate an end to more than four months of intense fighting in the North African nation.
The ICC’s prosecution asked for the arrest warrants for murder and persecution since mid-February, when the bloody uprising started.
Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo’s investigation follows a referral by the United Nations Security Council on the Libyan conflict on 26 February. The prosecutor’s office launched its investigation five days later.
Yesterday Moreno-Ocampo said the war crimes in Libya will not stop until Gaddafi is arrested.
“Crimes continue today in Libya. To stop the crimes and protect civilians in Libya, Gaddafi must be arrested,” he said in a statement.
It will be the second time the ICC’s top accuser has a country’s head of state in his sights, after an arrest warrant for Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir was first issued in March 2009. The warrant is yet to be executed.
In his submission, Moreno-Ocampo said Gaddafi had a personal hand in planning and implementing “a policy of widespread and systematic attacks against civilians and demonstrators and dissidents in particular.”
“Gaddafi’s plan expressly included the use of lethal force against demonstrators and dissidents,” the submission said.
The Libyan strongman also ordered sniping at civilians leaving mosques after evening prayers. His forces carried out a systematic campaign of arrest and detention of alleged dissidents, it said.
“Gaddafi’s plans were carried out through his inner circle, which included Seif al-Islam, Gaddafi’s de-facto prime minister and his brother-in-law Al-Senussi, considered to be his right-hand man,” the submission said.
Established in 2002, the ICC is the world’s first permanent, treaty-based court set up to try those accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide if the accused’s own country cannot or will not do so.